Waste for warmth

 PHOTO: Hannu-Pekka Laiho / IFRC
PHOTO: Hannu-Pekka Laiho / IFRC

Engineers Without Borders Norway saw three big challenges in the refugee camps in Turkey: lack of protection against harsh winters, overflow of plastic waste and lack of livelihood opportunities for refugees. They will now develop and test an approach to tackle all three issues.

What is the humanitarian challenge?

Millions of displaced people are living in temporary shelters across the Middle East, with more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey alone. Among the many challenges they face, is a lack of protection against harsh winters. For those living in camps, existing shelter heating solutions are costly and energy intensive and options to insulate tents are expensive. Current approaches to winterization assistance rely on distribution of blankets, stoves and fuel, and insulation and weather proofing of shelters. The distribution of heaters and stoves increases reliance on fuel, which increases the living costs of refugee families and negatively impacts the environment.


What is innovative about this project?

Engineers Without Borders Norway together with its consortium partners Field Ready, Polyfloss Factory and IFRC Shelter Research Unit will develop and test a new approach to shelter winterisation by making tent insulation in the field. The insulation will be created from recycled plastic by utilizing a technology called Polyfloss. Polyfloss is a mass of thin fibres of plastic that resembles candy-floss in appearance.

The Polyfloss fibres can be packed, shaped and formed and it traps air between its fibres, giving it insulating properties. Polyfloss machines can be deployed on-site where the insulation is needed. Plastic can be collected from the local area either informally or formally in return for funds. Polyfloss insulation has been successfully trialled in the UK, but this will be the first time that it will be tested outside the UK.

What are the expected outcomes?

The objective is to demonstrate the value of this new, more cost-effective and environmentally sound approach by insulating shelters for refugees in Turkey to help them through the cold winter. Another expected outcome is to investigate how this approach can contribute to livelihood opportunities for refugees and thereby contribute to the sustainability of the project.


Who are the project partners? 

Waste for warmth is a partnership between Engineers Without Borders Norway, Field Ready and The Polyfloss Factory.